A Mennonite pastor in Canada has opened up about his sexuality after two decades in the closet – but he won’t be getting divorced from his wife.
Pastor Pieter Niemeyer spoke to Daily Xtra after becoming the first Mennonite pastor to come out as gay.
The church leader – whose movement does not embrace LGBT people – spoke about how he was taught to believe it was possible to ‘change’ his sexuality.
He explained: “All the teachings were that it was wrong, and some of the advice being given was that God would ‘change’ you if you just believed enough.”
The pastor even got married to a woman in an attempt to turn himself straight – but after 20 years in the closet, he decided to tell his wife the truth.
He said: “I came out to Sue and she was very supportive. I knew in my gut that Sue would be an ally. That I knew.”
The pastor added that despite his homosexuality, the pair have taken the decision to respect their marriage vows.
He said: “Our plan is to stay married.
“If [divorcing] was Sue’s desire, I wouldn’t hold her back from that – just as I think if it was my desire to leave the marriage.
“It would be very tough for both of us if that were the case, but I think ultimately we wouldn’t hold eachother back from that.”
However, he admitted that there was plenty of “tension” caused by his desire to have sex with men.
He said: “There’s no clean, neat, tidy. My being a gay man and having sexual attraction… it is what it is.
“But everybody navigates their sexual attraction in honour of whatever relationships they are in.”
Despite his own decision to stay married, Pastor Niemeyer says he teaches inclusion so other people don’t go down the path he did.
He said: “My relationship with Sue is life-giving to me but we don’t hold any judgement for people who need to choose a different path.
“Even though for us this is a life-giving relationship, we don’t want younger LGBT Christians to be in this kind of situation.”
He adds that he advocates the full support of LGBT people including marriage – a stance that may put him at odds with his church leadership.